Monday, February 11, 2008

Family away from home

It's been a month of many family gatherings. For years, I was the only one in the area. A cousin relocated here several years ago. We see each other when we can but she's 30 miles away and always expects me to visit her neighborhood. Then, all of a sudden, my brother and a cousin moved here a little over a year ago.

I have to say it's really nice to have family around. We can complain about the crazy things our parents say and request of us. There is the girl my mother wants me to set up with my cousin. I vehemently refuse to get involved; he is thankful that I'm standing my ground; she is upset with me. He also must contend with his mother asking him to help set up our younger cousin if she comes here for grad school. Then, there are the impractical requests like my cousin loaning his winter coat to his younger brother via my brother's wife is she is going to be visiting her parents in the next couple of weeks. My cousin tried to explain to his mother that it would be easier if he just bought a coat. Oh the efforts we put in for blood.

A group of us met for dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve. It included Tim and Ricer's (my sister-in-law) sister. Having a mix of family is really nice. For me, it's important that Tim feel that he's included. I also think it's a good way to start learning some of the dynamics of my family as I don't think he's as involved with his.

On Saturday, another cousin was coming through on his way to China. None of us had seen him in at least a couple years. As a child, he was always the black sheep of the family due to his parents' terrible tempers and his carefree attitude. This dinner was only cousins plus Ricer.

First we met at my place for a little recreational fun, otherwise known as Rock Band for Playstation. In my cramped living room, five of us switched off playing guitar, drums or singing. Out-of-town cousin had never seen this before and got more excited about it after we had him take a turn in each role. The pictures of our family band are great. I love that even as "adults" we can have fun together.

I rode with him in the car to the restaurant. He talked about how he's really started thinking about more serious issues the past year. He's realized that he needs to start thinking about saving money, taking care of his parents, and determining what he wants in a future wife. It's taken him a long time to come around compared to the rest of us, but I'd like to believe that he's finally coming around. It's good to know that his relationships are improving.

Much of the dinner turned into a therapy session for a couple cousins who ranted story after story about the psychological pressures put upon us by our parents. Our eldest cousin is probably the least adjusted and will probably never escape his own insecurities. It is great to have such family bonds and be able to talk to each other.

If there was one reason I wish my life could have been different, it would be so that I could have the time and resources to have more children. I love that I have so much extended family and wish that my future kids could have that same, rich experience. Alas, they will only have a couple real cousins. Realistically, I know we cousins will drift to some extent as we marry and move to different places. I hope that somehow I can maintain the energy to keep everyone connected.

1 comment:

mini said...

being an only child, and having all of my cousins still in china, i constantly am envious of the bonds i see between people and their sibings/cousins ... at one point a couple of years ago, i wanted to have 4 kids, just so that they would always have each other to lean on and be best friends with

i'm not sure i can handle 4 kids, ever :)

glad that you & your cousins are getting lots of chances to bond. it's such a different kind of interaction, and something extremely hard to come by with folks who aren't blood